Special Report

The Richest Women in the World

Steve Jennings / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

Through much of history, men have held most of the world’s wealth, and as recently as 2014, women made less than 17% of the top 1% of earners in the United States. A large majority of the richest Americans are men. (These are the 30 richest Americans of all time.)

The financial success of women has often been stunted by historical legal and societal biases and prejudices. Prior to the 1848 Married Woman’s Property Act, women could not collect rent or lay claim to an inheritance. Women couldn’t legally open a bank account in the United States before the 1960s. Despite these obstacles, women have made significant contributions to society and science. These are the greatest women innovators and inventors.

The state of wealth-related gender disparity continues to improve though it is far from parity. Between 2014 and 2019, the number of female entrepreneurs increased by 21%, with some women amassing massive financial empires. Other women inherited fortunes, some strengthening their family’s companies and changing the future of the world’s wealth landscape. 

To identify the world’s richest women, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed Money Inc’s article The 20 Richest Women in The World As of 2022. To create its list, the site used various sources, including Forbes, Yahoo Finance, Finances Online, and Wealthy Gorilla. As with any estimates of personal wealth, there is varying information about these net worth amounts, with different figures at different sources.

The 20 richest women hail from a variety of countries, seven are from the United States, and six are from China. France only appears once on the list, but it is home to the wealthiest woman in the world, Françoise Bettencourt Meyers, heiress to the L’Oreal empire. Of the 20 listed women, four gained their wealth from technology-related industries, three from real estate companies, and two from mining businesses.

The fortunes of the 20 richest women were amassed in several ways, including entrepreneurship (25%), inheritance (70%), and divorce settlements (5%). Notably, every listed self-made female billionaire is from China, many of whom came from humble beginnings, including No. 16, Zhou Qunfei, who grew up in a rural community and worked in a factory.

Many of the richest women are charitable with their wealth. Some have their own philanthropic foundations, while others actively donate to various causes. 

Click here to see the richest women in the world.

19. Kwong Siu-hing
> Country: Hong Kong
> Estimated net worth: $12.2 billion

In 1990, the co-founder of Hong Kong-based real estate company Sun Hung Kai Properties passed away, leaving his widow Kwong Siu-hing, and their sons his estate and control of the company. Kwong served as chairperson of the company from 2008 to 2011. She is the largest shareholder in the company.

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18. Wang Laichun
> Country: China
> Estimated net worth: $12.7 billion

After working for 10 years at Foxconn, an iPhone assembly company, Wang Laichun became a big name in the electronics industry. Wang and her brother partnered to purchase Luxshare Precision, a company that makes electronic cables for technology companies, including Apple. As a co-founder of her company, she has amassed great wealth, becoming a self-made billionaire.

17. Kirsten Rausing
> Country: United Kingdom
> Estimated net worth: $13.2 billion

Kirsten Rausing was born in Sweden but eventually moved to the United Kingdom. Her grandfather founded Tetra Pak, a food packaging company that became a part of the holding company Tetra Laval. Rausing owns one-third of the company and serves on the board of directors. She has also focused on philanthropy, founding the Alborada Trust, which addresses world hunger and wildlife conservation.

16. Charlene de Carvalho Heineken
> Country: Netherlands
> Estimated net worth: $15.8 billion

Charlene de Carvalho Heineken is the sole heiress to the Heineken empire, which was purchased and re-named by her great grandfather Gerard Adriaan Heineken. She currently owns one-quarter of the company, and serves as an executive director.

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15. Zhou Qunfei
> Country: China
> Estimated net worth: $16.1 billion

Zhou Qunfei grew up in a low-income, rural family and struggled to have enough food to eat. Through a small savings she had earned through factory work, Zhou and her family started a touch-screen tech company called Lens Technology. Her new business became extremely successful. The company went public in 2015, securing Zhou’s place as one of the wealthiest self-made women in the world. She is actively involved in philanthropy.

14. Fan Hongwei
> Country: China
> Estimated net worth: $16.8 billion

Fan Hongwei and her husband took out a loan in order to purchase and restructure a chemical textile factory in Wujiang, China. Their structural adjustments enabled the success of the factory, and they expanded manufacturing sites and amassed a fortune worth billions. Fan serves as the CEO and chair of the company, alongside her husband.

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13. Wu Yajun
> Country: China
> Estimated net worth: $17.9 billion

Wu Yajun is another self-made billionaire whose career began as a factory worker. Wu eventually became a journalist at China Shirong News Agency, where she built significant connections that helped her break into the real estate industry. Together with her former husband, Wu co-founded Longfor Properties. Wu is a philanthropist, and makes educational, social, and environmental contributions.

12. Laurene Powell Jobs
> Country: United States
> Estimated net worth: $20.6 billion

Laurene Powell Jobs inherited much of her wealth when her husband, Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, passed away from cancer in 2011. Powell Jobs is heavily involved in philanthropy and social advocacy. She founded the Emerson Collective, a for-profit organization that aims to address immigraiton reform, environmental disasters, and other social issues.

11. Abigail Johnson
> Country: United States
> Estimated net worth: $21.2 billion

Abigail Johnson inherited a 24.5% stake in her grandfather’s company, Fidelity Investments. While her wealth was gained through her inheritance, Johnson has significantly increased that wealth. Starting at Fidelity Investments as an analyst in 1988, Johnson worked her way up the ladder to eventually become CEO, a position she has held since 2014. Johnson is an active philanthropist in the nonprofit and art worlds. She holds an MBA from Harvard University.

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10. Yang Huiyan
> Country: China
> Estimated net worth: $22.4 billion

Yang Huiyan inherited a large portion of the real estate development company Country Garden Holdings from her father in 2007. After obtaining a degree in marketing and logistics from Ohio State University, Yang went on to become one of the wealthiest women in China by the age of 25. Yang also owns an education company called Bright Scholar Education Holdings, and she founded the Guangdong Guoqiang Charity Fund.

9. Iris Fontbona
> Country: Chile
> Estimated net worth: $22.8 billion

The widow of Chilean billionaire Andronico Luksic, Iris Fontbona and her family inherited a large mining and beverage empire in 2005. The families’ copper mines are still successful. Fontbona and her family are also stakeholders in the highly diversified conglomerate corporation Quiñenco.

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8. Susanne Klatten
> Country: Germany
> Estimated net worth: $24.3 billion

Susanne Klatten is the wealthiest woman in Germany. She obtained her fortune through an inheritance from her family and holds a 19% stake in BMW. Klatten also has a majority stake in the pharmaceutical company Altana. She has an MBA from the IMD Business School in Switzerland.

7. Miriam Adelson
> Country: United States
> Estimated net worth: $27.5 billion

Miriam Adelson, a physician born in Israel, is the widow of billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who died in 2021. She inherited much of his fortune, including 50% of the Las Vegas Sands casino empire. Together with her late husband, Adelson founded the Sheldon G. Adelson Research Clinic, which aims to help those with opioid substance abuse disorders. Adelson has contributed to numerous philanthropic causes and is also a major donor to the Republican Party.

6. Georgina Rinehart
> Country: Australia
> Estimated net worth: $30.2 billion

Lang Hancock, the father of Georgina (Gina) Rinehart, began an iron mining company called the Hancock Prospecting Group in 1955. When Rinehart took over the company, she restructured and expanded the business, amassing wealth in the process. Rinehart also owns a variety of cattle-producing properties. She is Australia’s richest person.

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5. MacKenzie Scott
> Country: United States
> Estimated net worth: $43.6 billion

MacKenzie Scott amassed much of her wealth through her divorce from Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos. Scott is both an author and a significant philanthropist. She has pledged to give away half of her wealth throughout her lifetime and has contributed billions of dollars to nonprofits. Scott is listed as one of Forbes top givers in 2022.

4. Jacqueline Mars
> Country: United States
> Estimated net worth: $48.8 billion

Jacqueline Mars and her two brothers are the grandchildren of Frank C. Mars, who founded the Mars candy company. She inherited one-third of the company, which she worked at for 20 years while serving as a board member. Mars is an advocate for women’s education and serves on the board of the National Archives Foundation.

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3. Julia Flesher Koch
> Country: United States
> Estimated net worth: $56.9 billion

Following the death of her husband David H. Koch, Julia Flesher Koch inherited over 40% of Koch Industries. Koch Industries is a conglomerate that owns a variety of businesses, including Georgia-Pacific, Guardian Industries, and Koch Minerals and Trading. Koch has donated millions of dollars to various medical centers and is president of the David H. Koch Foundation.

2. Alice Walton
> Country: United States
> Estimated net worth: $62.7 billion

Alice Walton’s father, Sam Walton, founded Walmart. Walton is the chairman of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, which she opened in 2011 in Arkansas. Walton makes significant charitable contributions to the arts, and is a prolific art collector.

1. Françoise Bettencourt Meyers
> Country: France
> Estimated net worth: $74.1 billion

Françoise Bettencourt Meyers is the wealthiest woman in the world. She inherited her fortune from her parents, who were owners of the French cosmetics company L’Oreal, originally founded by Bettencourt Meyers’ grandfather. Bettencourt Meyers is heavily involved in philanthropy, particularly in the fields of science and art.

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